The next PlayStation console will feature premium specs, and will probably have a premium price. Wired got an exclusive sneak peek at what Sony is working on for the as-yet-unnamed console, and if the goal is met, the box is going to follow the trajectory of the previous PlayStation products. According to Mark Cerny, the system’s lead architect, the next PlayStation will have more powerful processors, higher-end graphics capability, faster storage, and crisper audio.
The announced specifications are a blend of old and new. A solid state drive will speed the console’s storage, but they are aiming to have it accept games on physical media, even as other companies gear up for an all streaming future. A variant of the Navi graphics processor will push graphics into 8K and ray-tracing (something no console has done yet) but the basic architecture will allow for backwards compatibility for playing PS4 games.
Sony says this console won’t be ready for 2019. In fact, the company has already bowed out of holding an E3 conference this year. They have no details on price or services as yet, but alleged leaks have set the initial retail ask at $499.
Sony has announced the PlayStation 4 Pro. It’s the incremental upgrade to the PlayStation 4 that was code-named “Neo” before it went all pro on us. According to Sony, it’s all about 4K visuals and high dynamic range support. That’s fancy talk for “It makes games look better.” While exact specifications aren’t available yet, Sony’s presentation at the PlayStation Meeting in New York did mention a 1TB drive and an upgraded graphics processor. Sony representatives say the new-ish console will play all current PlayStation 4 games, but it will be up to developers to decide how to best support the Pro’s strengths.
At launch, games that will support the PlayStation 4 Pro’s upgraded graphics capability will be Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Watch Dogs 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Battlefield 1, For Honor, and the new Spider-Man game from Insomniac. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will get an update later this year for the Pro console.
The PlayStation 4 Pro launches on November 10th for $399.
PlayStation plus is about to get more expensive. On September 22nd, the console subscription service is going up in price by $10. That’s $59.99 for a year of membership. Sony says you’ll still get all the stuff you’re currently enjoying on PlayStation Plus, just at a slightly higher premium.
This marks the first time that PS Plus membership prices will increase in the U.S. and Canada since the launch of the service in 2010. The new pricing reflects the current market conditions while enabling us to continue providing exceptional value to our members.
Although you can usually find a better deal for subscription codes by scouring the usual sites on the internet, you can count on even those discounts going up a bit when the official change kicks in. The good news is that if Sony follows the precedent, the next price increase won’t happen until at least 2024.
Up until now, there have been rumblings in the development community that Sony was planning to revise the hardware in their PlayStation 4. What made the rumors intriguing was that according to the sources, Sony wasn’t just reducing the footprint and heat of the console with a “slim” version like they had in previous console generations. The information leaking out suggested that Sony was actually going to bump the specs to account for the additional power requirements that VR and 4K gaming needs. This incremental hardware upgrade would be unique in the console space, with the closest analogue being the revision of the handheld Nintendo 3DS with the New Nintendo 3DS in 2014.
Sony is now openly outlining this hardware upgrade plan with some developers. Both Giant Bomb and Eurogamer confirm that they have seen the documentation. The new Sony hardware is codenamed Neo, while the original PlayStation 4 is referred to as the Base model. The Neo version of the PlayStation offers faster memory, a better processor, and a more powerful graphics unit. Developers are being told that a Neo game’s performance must meet or exceed the Base version, and Neo-only features or gameplay is forbidden. Additionally, studios will not be allowed to produce Neo-only titles. They must continue to support the Base version. Starting in October, all PlayStation 4 games must support both specifications of the console.
The documents do not specify when the hardware is launching, but the software requirement starting in October is a good hint. It remains to be seen how gamers will react to this console hardware upgrade, and how Base model owners will feel when their Neo brethren are playing the same games at better framerates and bigger resolutions.
Right after the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Kotaku published a report alleging that Sony was working on a kind of “PlayStation 4.5” that would be a half-step between the current console and a next-gen hardware target. This console would feature an iterative advance on specifications rather than a complete revision. A little more oomph here and bit more razzamatazz there to make current games play more smoothly, better support PlayStation VR’s graphics-hungry requirements, and take some steps into the 4K resolution space. According to Kotaku’s sources, there wasn’t a clear timetable for when this was coming, but Sony held meetings with developers and publishers to discuss the concept.
Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry says they have independently verified the existence of this iterative console. Their contacts told them it’s being referred to as the PlayStation 4K, and that the machine already exists as a prototype.
The most obvious flaw in this plan is that the audience may not be ready to buy another PlayStation. The PlayStation 4 launched only three years ago, and the console being discussed doesn’t offer much more than a slight upgrade. Unfortunately, if developers and publishers target the hardware of the PlayStation 4.5/4K for their next games, owners of the plain old PlayStation 4 may find themselves left behind.
Did you buy a PS Vita portable console prior to June 1st, 2012? Good news for you! You’re probably eligible for either a $25 credit or a $50 merchandise voucher, thanks to Sony’s early advertising for the handheld. Sony has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission and pay a penalty for its “misleading” and “false” television commercials. If you’re wondering what Sony did wrong, the FTC’s blog has a great summary. (The FTC has a blog? What an age we live in!)
In 2012, Sony and its advertising agency, Deutsch LA, Inc., promoted the PS Vita on the internet and in promotional videos, TV commercials and stores. Ads said you would “Never stop playing” and showed users enjoying the “remote play,” “cross save” and real-time 3G features. But the FTC says that despite the ads’ promises, customers really couldn’t use remote play to run most PS3 games on the PS Vita – not even Killzone 3, the popular PS3 game Sony featured in its promotional video explaining remote play. And the claims that you could “cross save” by pausing a game on one system and resuming it on another? Sony didn’t tell that you actually had to have two copies of the same game for this feature to work. What about the live, multiplayer game sessions that looked exciting in the ads? The PS Vita couldn’t do that, even if you bought the 3G version.
But hey, $50! Buy something for your old-school PS Vita to play. Sony will be sending emails to eligible consumers once the settlement is approved. And you thought your Vita wasn’t useful.
PlayStation Home is shutting down. Sony announced that the PlayStation 3 social media virtual advertising space is closing down on March 31st, 2015. New content will cease on November 12th of this year, but participants will be able to download content until December 3rd. Free virtual gifts will be given to the community until the platform’s closure. Sony cited a “shifting landscape” as the reason for the service’s termination. Otherwise known as “Please go buy a PlayStation 4.”
PlayStation Home has been bringing “adutainment” to PlayStation 3 gamers since 2008 with a variety of virtual spaces. Goodbye Red Bull Air Race! Fare thee well Ford Showroom! Adios EA Sports Golf Island!